Starring Samuel Fuller, Tim Robbins, Jim Jarmusch, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino
Directed by Adam Simon
The Typewriter, the Rifle and the Movie Camera tells the story of Sam Fuller through the three tools that defined his character. The typewriter represents his youth spent as a journalist, first as a copy boy and later as a 17-year-old homicide reporter. The rifle represents his time in the army, fighting in World War II from North Africa all the way to the liberation of a concentration camp in what is now the Czech Republic. The movie camera is obvious, and references his time as a director. These experiences combined to deliver a kind of hard-hitting, no-bullshit cinema that no one before or since has quite captured.
This documentary is made all the more vibrant by the participation of three “current-gen” directors (Tim Robbins, Jim Jarmusch and Quentin Tarantino), one ’70s-era filmmaker (Martin Scorsese), and the man himself, Samuel Fuller. Scorsese offers the wise opinions of an older man who has been deeply affected by the works of Fuller since the age of six when his father took him to see Fuller’s debut film, I Shot Jesse James. Tarantino and Robbins hang out in The Shack, Fuller’s home office in Los Angeles where he kept all his scripts, mementos and artifacts from movies long past. Robbins also serves as interviewer, directly asking Fuller questions. Jarmusch serves a more traditional documentary role: the filmed interview. And Fuller, of course, relates stories from his incredible life and career with the vibrant flare that only he can. He seems visibly excited to be conversing with the youth of Hollywood, and I’m sure it was quite flattering for the aging director to be so well-respected by these young men towards the start of their careers.